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Great Aussie dream

Sydney Morning Herald
Saturday, August 12, 2017

THE great Australian dream of owning your own home — usually a house on a quarter-acre block — is almost considered a universal truth. But one in every three people no longer holds onto this aspiration, a new survey reveals.

While one in four of 3200 people surveyed by ServiceSeeking thought they would never be able to own a home, of those who don't own, 35 per cent said it was not a major priority in their life.

This could be because of the unaffordability of housing in key east coast capital cities, ServiceSeeking chief executive Jeremy Levitt said.

"This contradicts the 'Great Australian Dream' of property ownership and shows how rising house prices are changing Australian culture," Mr Levitt said.

"Housing prices and living costs are higher than ever, making it more difficult for younger generations to buy a home. The whole perception of home ownership and its importance in our lives has changed."

Sydney's median house price is now $A1.17 million ($F1.9m), while Melbourne's is $A865,712 ($F1.4m), latest Domain Group data shows.

During the price boom in these cities first-home buyer levels fell to record lows.

And all capital cities, with the exception of Perth, saw a rise in property prices in the year to June 2017.

A survey from Mortgage Choice in June found almost two-thirds of Australians consider home ownership to be something for the wealthy. But an earlier survey from the company found 86 per cent of respondents still want to own real estate - most likely an apartment.

The median house price is now about seven to eight times the annual salary — triple what it was for Gen Y's grandparents, property investment services company Thalia Stanley Group chief executive Marion Mays said.

"How this plays out is we are seeing a 50 per cent decline in first-home buyers in the under-30 age bracket, and a dramatic increase from buyers in their 40s and 50s," Ms Mays said.

Now, the shift has been towards investing in real estate — as opposed to buying a home to live in — and renting.

This strategy, called rentvesting, has been marketed as a way for first-home buyers to get a foot on the ladder.

But a move away from any property ownership at all has seen experts call for a rethink to housing policy, particularly the way retirement is funded, because of the structure of rental and superannuation laws.

First Home Buyers Australia co-founder Taj Singh said young Australians who were still keen to own a home were instead learning to compromise.

This was either by taking on Lenders Mortgage Insurance — a premium paid by borrowers who take out a loan of more than 80 per cent of the purchase price — or by buying a smaller property, or something further away from the city.

He said they were also delaying "big ticket items" such as cars or holidays.

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